The rise of international parliamentary institutions: Purpose and legitimation

  • Jofre RocabertEmail author
  • Frank Schimmelfennig
  • Loriana Crasnic
  • Thomas Winzen


International parliamentary institutions (IPIs) have become an established feature of international politics. While scholars of international institutions have extensively studied why states delegate to international organizations (IOs) in general, they have said little about the creation of parliamentary bodies. Moreover, IPIs do not fit the functions commonly attributed to international delegation. By differentiating between general-purpose and task-specific IOs, we hypothesize that general-purpose IOs establish and maintain parliamentary bodies that serve their legitimation needs. A nested quantitative and qualitative analysis based on an original dataset on the emergence of IPIs and case studies on the reform of the Economic Community of West African States and the development of the Pacific Islands Forum supports this explanation.


International organizations International parliamentary institutions Legitimation Authority Purpose 

JEL Classification




We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation, NCCR “Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century”. For comments on previous versions, we thank Jonas Tallberg and Michael Zürn as well as Arthur Benz, Daniel Bochsler, Tim Büthe, Daniele Caramani, Jeff Checkel, Robert Keohane, Tobias Lenz, Thomas Plümper, Stefaan Walgrave and three anonymous reviewers. We also thank the participants at workshops at WZB Berlin and Stockholm University, and audiences at the European Political Science Association, the Heidelberg conference of the Austrian, German and Swiss political science associations, the University of Munich and FU Berlin. We further wish to thank Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks for providing us with a pre-publication version of their data on IO authority. Finally, we are very grateful to our research assistants: Jana Lipps, Kata Szabó, Siyana Timcheva, Marc Weber, Müge Özlütiras and Geraldine Alvarez.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material (144 kb)
ESM 1 (ZIP 144 kb)


  1. Anderson, B., Bernauer, T., & Kachi, A. (2019). Does International Pooling of Authority Affect the Perceived Legitimacy of Global Governance? Review of International Organizations, this issue. Google Scholar
  2. Bach, D. (1983). The Politics of West African Economic Co-operation: CEAO and ECOWAS. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 21(4), 605–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berry, W. D., DeMeritt, J. H., & Esarey, J. (2010). Testing for Interaction in Binary Logit and Probit Models: Is a Product Term Essential? American Journal of Political Science, 54(1), 248–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bourenane, N. (Ed.), Economic Cooperation and Regional Integration in Africa. Nairobi: Academy Science PublishersGoogle Scholar
  5. Börzel, T. A., & Risse, T. (2016). Introduction. In T. A. Börzel & T. Risse (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism (pp. 3–15). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buchanan, A., & Keohane, R. (2006). The Legitimacy of Global Governance Institutions. Ethics and International Affairs, 20(4), 405–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chayes, A., & Handler Chayes, A. (1998). The New Sovereignty: Compliance with International Regulatory Agreements. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cofelice, A. (2012). Interregional Parliamentary Assemblies: A New Layer in the Multi-level Global Governance System. In L. Bekemans, Intercultural dialogue and Multi-level Governance. A Human Rights based Approach (pp. 277-292). Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  9. Coppedge, M., Gerring J., Lindberg S., Skaaning, S., Teorell, J., Altman, D., Andersson, F., Bernhard, M., Fish, S., Glynn, A., Hicken, A., Henrik Knutsen, C., McMann, K., Mechkova V., Miri F., Paxton, P., Pemstein, D., Sigman, R., Staton, J., & Zimmerman, B. (2016). “V-Dem Codebook v6.” Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project.Google Scholar
  10. Costa, O., Dri, C., & Stavridis, S. (2013). Parliamentary Dimensions of Regionalization and Globalization. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dapaah-Agyemang, J. (2003) Transformation of ECOWAS as a Security Apparatus and Its Implications in Ghana's Political Orientation, 1990-2000. African and Asian Studies, 2(1), 3–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Delegation under Anarchy: States, International Organizations, and Principal-Agent Theory. (2006). In D. G. Hawkins, D. A. Lake, D. L. Nielson, & M. J. Tierney (Eds.), Delegation and Agency in International Organizations (pp. 3–38). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Dellmuth, L., & Tallberg, J. (2015). The social legitimacy of international organisations: Interest representation, institutional performance, and confidence extrapolation in the United Nations. Review of International Studies, 41(3), 451–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dennis, P., & Leanne, B. (2004). The ECOWAS: From Regional Economic Organization to Regional Peacekeeper. In F. Laursen, Comparative Regional Integration: Theoretical Perspectives (pp. 229–249). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  15. ECOWAS (1975). Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States. Lagos: ECOWAS Google Scholar
  16. ECOWAS. (1991a). Declaration A/DCL.1/7/91 of Political Principles of the Economic Community of West African States 1991 Jul 06Google Scholar
  17. ECOWAS. (1991b). Opening Statement by General Yakubu Gowon (RTD) Chairman of the Committee ofGoogle Scholar
  18. ECOWAS. (1992). Review of the ECOWAS Treaty: Final Report by the Committee of Eminent Persons. Google Scholar
  19. ECOWAS. (1993). Economic Community of West African Affairs – Revised Treaty. Retrieved September 22, 2017, from ECOWAS:
  20. Falk, R., & Strauss, A. (2001). Toward Global Parliament. Foreign Affairs, 80, 212–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Føllesdal, A., & Hix, S. (2006). Why There is a Democratic Deficit in the EU: A Response to Majone and Moravcsik. Journal of Common Market Studies, 44(3), 533–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Franck, T. (1988). Legitimacy in the International System. American Journal of International Law, 82(4), 705–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fry, G. (1981). Regionalism and international politics in the South Pacific. Pacific Affairs, 54(3), 455–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fry, G., & Tarte, S. (2015). The ‘new pacific diplomacy’:An introduction. In G. Fry & S. Tarte (Eds.), The New Pacific Diplomacy (pp. 3–20). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grigorescu, A. (2010). The Spread of Democratic Oversight Mechanisms across Intergovernmental Organizations. International Studies Quarterly, 54(3), 871–886.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haas, E. B. (1976). Turbulent Fields and Regional Integration Theory. International Organization, 30(2), 173–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hix, S. (2002). Constitutional Agenda-Setting Through Discretion in Rule Interpretation: Why the European Parliament Won at Amsterdam. British Journal of Political Science, 32(2), 259–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hooghe, L., & Marks, G. (2003). Unravelling the Central State, but How? Types of Multi-Level Governance. American Political Science Review, 97(2), 233–243.Google Scholar
  29. Hooghe, L., & Marks, G. (2015). Delegation and Pooling in International Organizations. Review of International Organizations, 10(3), 305–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hooghe, L., & Marks, G. (2016). Community, Scale, and Regional Governance: A Postfunctionalist Theory of Governance, Volume II. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hooghe, L., Marks, G., Lenz, T., Bezuijen, J., Ceka, B., & Derderyan, S. (2017). Measuring International Authority: A Postfunctionalist Theory of Government (Vol. IV). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hurd, I. (1999). Legitimacy and Authority in International Politics. International Organization, 53(2), 379–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Keohane, R. (1984). After Hegemony. Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Keohane, R. O., Macedo, S., & Moravcsik, A. (2009). Democracy-Enhancing Multilateralism. International Organization, 63(1), 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kissling, C. (2014). The Legal and Political Status of International Parliamentary Institutions. In L. Levi, G. Finizio, & N. Vallinoto, The Democratization of International Institutions: First International Democracy Report (pp. 25–53). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Koitzsch, C. (2012). Institutional Similarities between Regional Organizations: An Analysis of ECOWAS and the Arab League. In T. A. Börzel, L. Goltermann, & K. Striebinger (Eds.), Roads to Regionalism: Genesis, Design, and Effects of Regional Organizations (pp. 117–137). Burlington: Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Lenz, T. (2013). External Influences on Regionalism: Studying EU Diffusion and its Limits. Retrieved September 22, 2017, from E-International Relations:
  38. Lenz, T., & Burylkov, A. (2017). Institutional Pioneers in World Politics. Regional Institution Building and the Influence of the European Union. European Journal of International Relations, 23(3), 654–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lenz, T., Bezuijen, J., Hooge, L., & Marks, G. (2015). Patterns of International Authority: Task Specific vs General Purpose. Politische Vierteljghresschrift, 49, 131–156.Google Scholar
  40. Lenz, T., & Viola, L. (2017). Legitimacy and institutional change in international organisations: a cognitive approach. Review of International Studies, 43(5), 939–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lieberman, E. (2005). Nested Analysis as a Mixed-Method Strategy for Comparative Research. American Political Science Review, 99(3), 435–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mair, S., & Peters-Berries, C. (2001). Regionale Integration und Kooperation in Afrika südlich der Sahara EAC, ECOWAS und SADC im Vergleich. Forschungsberichte des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung. Bonn: Weltforum-Verlag.Google Scholar
  43. Majone, G. (2001). Two Logics of Delegation: Agency and Fiduciary Relations in EU Governance. European Union Politics, 2(1), 103–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Majone, G. (2002). The European Commission: The Limits of Centralization and the Perils of Parliamentarization. Governance, 15(3), 375–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mara, R. (2001). Keynote address on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the South Pacific Forum of Leaders, Yaren Nauru, 16 August.Google Scholar
  46. Marc, A., Verjee, N., & Mogaka, S. (2015). The Important Role of ECOWAS in Developing West Africa's Security Architecture. In A. Marc, N. Verjee, & S. Mogaka, The Challenge of Stability and Security in West Africa (p. 158). Washington, D.C.: World Bank Publications.Google Scholar
  47. Meyer, J., & Rowan, B. (1977). Institutionalized organizations: formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Sociology, 83(2), 340–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Moore, M. (1982). A Pacific Parliament. Wellington, NZ: Asia Pacific Books.Google Scholar
  49. Nielson, D., & Tierney, M. (2003). Delegation to International Organizations: Agency Theory and World Bank Environmental Reform. International Organization, 57(2), 241–276. Scholar
  50. Ojo, O. (1980). Nigeria and the Formation of ECOWAS. International Organization, 36(1), 571–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pacific Islands Forum. (2004). The Eminent Persons’ Group Review of the Pacific Islands Forum, April 2004. Available at:
  52. Pacific Islands Forum. 2005. Agreement Establishing the Pacific Islands Forum. Pacific Islands Forum, Secretariat, Suva, Fiji. Available at: Accessed 9 of March 2018.
  53. Pareti, S. (2013). Fiji pushes for alternative to Pacific Islands Forum. ABC News Online, 6 August.Google Scholar
  54. Peebles, D. (2005). Pacific Regional Order. In Canberra. Australia: ANU E Press and Asia Pacific Press.Google Scholar
  55. Risse, T. (2016). The Diffusion of Regionalism. In T.A. Börzel and T. Risse, The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism (pp. 87–108). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Rittberger, B. (2005). Building Europe’s Parliament. Democratic Representation Beyond the Nation-State. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rittberger, B. (2006). No Integration without Representation! European Integration, Democracy, and Two Forgotten Communities. Journal of European Public Policy, (8), 1211–1229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rittberger, B., & Schroeder, P. (2016). The Legitimacy of Regional Institutions. In T. A. Börzel, & T. Risse, The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Seawright, J., & Gerring, J. (2008). Case selection techniques in case study research. Political Research Quarterly, 61(2), 294–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Slatter, C. (2015). The new framework for pacific regionalism: Old kava in a new tanoa? In G. Fry & S. Tarte (Eds.), The New Pacific Diplomacy (pp. 49–63). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.Google Scholar
  61. South Pacific Islands Forum. (1971). Joint Final Communiqué, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Wellington 5-7 August. Available at: us/secretariat/walk-down-memory-lane/South Pacific Forum. (1985). South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation Committee Meeting, Rarotonga 30 July – 1 August. Available from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat archives.
  62. South Pacific Forum. 1985. Sixteenth South Pacific Forum, Rarotonga 5-6 August. Available at: Accessed 9 of March 2018.
  63. South Pacific Islands Forum. (1995). Forum Officials Committee – Pre-Forum Session, Madang, 10-12 September. Available from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat archives.Google Scholar
  64. Tallberg, J. and Zürn, M. (2019). The Legitimacy and Legitimation of International Organizations: Introduction and Framework. Review of International Organizations, this issue. Google Scholar
  65. Tallberg, J., Sommerer, T., & Squatrito, T. (2016). Democratic Memberships in International Organizations: Sources of Institutional Design. Review of International Organizations, 11(1), 59–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tallberg, J., Sommerer, T., Squatrito, T., & Jönsson, C. (2013). The Opening Up of International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  67. Van Nieuwkerk, A. (2011). The Regional Roots of the African Peace and Security Architecture: Exploring Centre-Periphery Relations. South African Journal of International Affairs, 18(2), 169–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wucherpfenning, J., Hunziker, P., & Cederman, L.-E. (2016). Who Inherits the State? Colonial Rule and Postcolonial Conflict. American Journal of Political Science, 60(4), 882–898.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ETH ZurichEuropean Politics Research GroupZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.University of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.University of MannheimMannheimGermany

Personalised recommendations